Balancing Equity and Effectiveness: The Paris Agreement & The Future of International Climate Change Law

60 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2019

See all articles by Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne

Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: March 25, 2019


International climate change law is approaching its third decade of existence, yet global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Absent more effective efforts to limit emissions, the range and magnitude of negative impacts climate change gives rise to will continue to deepen, posing pervasive threats to human and natural systems worldwide. The 2015 Paris Agreement offers the parameters for a new approach to climate change law premised on inclusiveness and voluntary cooperation, but it continues to reflect collective discord over how to achieve progress in a fair and equitable way. This Article examines the normative framework underlying the international climate change regime and the way in which the Paris Agreement seeks to create a more cohesive and cooperative strategy to simultaneously mitigate climate change and move towards a more just world. This Article suggests that the Paris Agreement signals a modest but important shift in the normative framework of international climate change law and argues that this shift creates an opportune moment to examine the degree to which evolving concepts of justice, equity, and fairness underlie and advance the goals of international climate change law. In key part, this Article suggests that the exclusion of justice from international climate change law undermines efforts to conceptualize the collective and individual equity concerns that climate change poses. The new framework, even if only nominally different, provides more expansive opportunities to integrate considerations of climate justice and fairness into the institutional structure of the regime by creating a more open and transparent forum within which parties can formally stake out their positions on both the substantive and normative dimensions of climate change. In so doing, this Article shows that although the Paris Agreement falls short of offering a precise roadmap forward, it represents a more effective model for international cooperation.

Keywords: climate change, Paris Agreement, equity, justice, market-based mechanisms, international law

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K10, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Carlarne, Cinnamon Piñon, Balancing Equity and Effectiveness: The Paris Agreement & The Future of International Climate Change Law (March 25, 2019). NYU Environmental Law Journal, Forthcoming, Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 477 (2019), Available at SSRN: or

Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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